As marketing technologies have become more mainstream, the desire for robust implementations and rapid updates has increased. Often, simple updates which required technology experts for implementations can now be completed by nontechnical contributors using a content management system (CMS). The same thing is happening now with tag management solutions that enable analysts to deploy analytics and media tracking without engaging developers for simple template deployments.
Tag management systems were introduced by IBM and Adobe about 10 years ago, but they were expensive and still somewhat complicated. In 2012, Google joined the tag management ecosystem with its own solution. Unlike most of the major competitors, they offered the product for free.
Google Tag Manager is built on three building blocks – tags, triggers and variables. Tags create the connection between an on-page action and the recording of the interaction. Google Tag Manager has 15 templated platforms from top media and analytics properties like AdRoll, Marin and LinkedIn, plus templates for other Google platforms like Google Analytics, AdWords and DoubleClick. Custom tags can also be used for other platforms and tracking tools.
Activating the tags are triggers, which create a set of rules about when the tags are fired. These rules can be simple “all pages” rules or complicated combinations that only fire when a narrow set of actions are taken on the website. Variables, the third structure within Google Tag Manager, collect and store data to be accessed by the tag and are written to analytics and tracking platforms. Google provides nearly 30 built-in variables, but additional variables can be defined to match a specific business needs, including user IDs, product numbers or other unique data collection requirements. Variable data can be captured from browser activity, the URL, form completions, the DOM and through data layer pushes in the website’s code.
Google Tag Manager allows marketing and communications analysts to deploy standard tracking code with ease and efficiency, reducing the requirement for developers. The tools and checks in the system allow for thorough testing and review by the appropriate team members, so high quality and process compliance are ensured. Google Tag Manager will allow continuous improvement on tracking while reducing the overall enterprise costs to do so.
For projects including lead generation campaigns or campaign microsites, Google Tag Manager will permit the addition of last-minute tags from media vendors without pushing code through development environments. For a main corporate website, for example, as communication and marketing needs for data expand, additional tracking can be placed through Google Tag Manager to provide more thorough reporting and analysis capabilities for areas that were not required in the original project design.
For information about how Marcus Thomas’ analytics team can assist with tag management and other performance optimization strategies and techniques, contact Scott Chapin.
More information about Google Tag Manager can be found directly from Google at